I'll be glad to answer your questions.
1. What is your name? If you do not want to give your name, please note "Anonymous."
2. Where do you work and what is your position? Do you get pay or is it volunteer job?
Employed jointly by a church and a health system. Paid position
. How long have you been working as a Parish Nurse and how did you get into Parish nursing in the first place?
I have been a parish nurse for about 16 years.
When the Parish Nurse program was brought to our community, our church decided to get involved. I prayed about it and felt led to apply for the job. I am the first and only parish nurse that our church has had.
4. Explain the function, roles, and responsibilities of your position.
The Parish Nurse's roles and responsibilities fall under these basic categories:
5. How do you provide spiritual care to a person who is experiencing an illness/injury and their family? Please list a few examples.
- Health Educator - raises the health awareness level and promotes healthy lifestyles within the congregation through a variety of formats, seminars, conferences, and classes.
- Personal Health Counselor - discusses personal health problems, recommends medical intervention, answers questions regarding medications and medical tests, offers blood pressure screenings, etc.
- Visitation Minister - visits in the home, hospital, nursing home.
- Referral Source - helps members obtain needed services from church or community agencies or support groups.
- Volunteer Coordinator - recruits, trains, and supervises volunteers to respond to physical, mental, and spiritual needs in the church.
- Client Advocate -intervenes for the patient as necessary in the hospital or office setting by talking to the nursing/medical staff.
Providing spiritual care is an integral part of Parish Nursing. This can be done in the following ways:
6. How do you feel that you are able to enhance the healing environment for the person who is sick/injured and his/her family?
- Praying with the patient and/or family
- Being with the patient and family and providing non-judgemental support as they express their emotions
- Offering a shoulder to cry on
- Arranging to have clergy present
- Providing uplifting music
- Reading scripture
- Providing spiritually uplifting reading material
- Being present at the time of death for support
- Being present at the funeral for the family
Because of the relationship I have with the person and their family, they often find my present comforting because they trust me. I am able to not only provide "nursing care" for their bodies but also provide spiritual care. It is this special integrated role that goes beyond what a nurse or clergy can do on their own. I am able to advise them and help them navigate through their health challenges.
7. What is your typical week like?
Weeks and days are not typical. The only thing that you can be sure of.....you must be flexible and available. You never know what the week will bring. Yes, you have scheduled activities, but you cannot predict where you will be needed.....who will go the ER with an MI, who will be admitted with a stroke, who will die. These are the difficult times when your parishioners will need the Parish Nurse to provide spiritual, emotional, and physical care.
But your week will typically involve hospital visits, home visits, nursing home visits, lots of phone calls to check up on folks, delivering medical equipment, patient teaching, meetings with church staff, lots of prayers.........
8. What are the advantages or disadvantages of Parish nursing
- Flexible schedule
- Ability (and expectation) to pray with patients and to feel God working through me
- To witness "God moments"
- To be a part of special times in peoples' lives and deaths, creating special relationships
- To know and interact with your "patients" for years as they travel along life's journey rather than for only a few minutes or days in the clinic or hospital setting.
- To be able to use your nursing knowledge in a unique way as you meet the needs of people across the age spectrum.
- To be challenged daily to learn more in order to provide current information to your patients
- Many positions are volunteer and many of those paid positions are not in line with RN salaries
- Compassion fatigue - Although this is found in most nursing positions, because you have such close relationships with these people, it is almost like dealing with a family member. When one is going through a tragic situation or dies, it is particularly hard to deal with.
- Sometimes unrealistic expectations from health system re. paperwork, documentation, etc
- Most positions are part-time although in reality it is more a full-time job
- People think you are on-call 24/7
If you have additional questions, I will try to answer them.
You might find the following articles helpful:
A Typical Day for this Parish Nurse
What is Parish Nursing